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Re: If (and when)

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  • Hans Georg Lundahl
    Speaking of the topic - we have a Quenya word for when , but do we have one for if ? Hypothetical clauses are part of language structure, and such a one
    Message 1 of 13 , Apr 7, 2003
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      Speaking of the topic - we have a Quenya word for "when", but do we have one for "if"?

      Hypothetical clauses are part of language structure, and such a one Quenya should by now be recognised to have. I have speculated on the possibility that Tolkien didn't invent any hypothetic conjunction, because, like in Old Norse and Modern Swedish - in fact any Scandinavian language - hypothetic sentences may be expressed by juxtaposition of simple clauses with some discreet difference from ordinary clauses, here an inversion of subject and predicate main verb, also used for question clauses (yes/no questions). This _might_ be an ossified rhetorical figure, two rhetorical questions juxtaposed with the implication, after the first one: "you might as well ask:" - a rhetoric figure I think Tolkien and Pengolod would relish, though I am not so sure of their relishing its fading into a commonplace expression for hypothetical sentences.

      I have noted the compound _aiquen_ in the sense of 'if anyone' or 'whoever' (XI:372), and wondered if this obvious calque of, for instance, Latin _siquis_ doesn't imply another sense (obsolete or not?) of simple _ai_ than an interjection of pain. Any takers?

      Hans Georg Lundahl

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    • David Kiltz
      ... You note the word _ai_ in _aiquen_. Since, indeed, the formation and meaning (as you say) resembles Latin _siquis_ very closely, I think there is a good
      Message 2 of 13 , Apr 8, 2003
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        On Montag, April 7, 2003, at 02:28 Uhr, Hans Georg Lundahl wrote:

        > Speaking of the topic - we have a Quenya word for "when", but do we
        > have one for "if"?

        You note the word _ai_ in _aiquen_. Since, indeed, the formation and
        meaning (as you say) resembles Latin _siquis_ very closely, I think
        there is a good chance that _ai_ is a candidate.

        There is also Q. _íre_ [V:72]. This looks like the demonstrative _i_ +
        a (short) locative ending _-se_: At that (scil. time/occasion). Indo-European
        has similar formations, cf. Latin _si_ and Greek _ei_. The difference being
        that it means rather "when" than "if".


        I would plea for the lenience of the administrators to allow me a last
        take on the if/when issue (suggesting that any further on that topic
        should go privately). This is mainly to avoid people from taking
        factual errors for real (see my second response):

        [I'll allow this, since the topic was broached on the list. Any further
        discussion should be carried on off-list. When a concensus is
        reached -- which it should be, since this is a matter of standard
        grammar, not opinion -- one of you can write back with the results.
        Perhaps someone would like to begin a "Tolkien in Translation"
        mailing list? CFH]

        In response to A. Smith: _falls_ is indeed one of the many adverbial
        genitives in German. It is, however, not on the same "level" as
        ("gesetzt den Fall" etc. or, I think, "in case"). It works as a simple
        conjunction.

        In response to H. G. Lundahl:

        > "wenn" means simply "if"

        This is simply wrong. "Wenn ich nach hause komme, werde ich etwas
        essen" means "when I come home..." not "if". "If I come home" is
        "falls/wenn ich nach hause komme". _Wann_ is *only* used as
        interrogative or indefinite pronoun ("Wann kommst du ?" "Wann du
        willst" == "When will you come?" "Whenever you want").

        _Falls_ is in no way more colloquial than the indiscriminate use of
        _wenn_. Rather on the contrary. The genitive of circumstance is a
        heritage from Indo-European. It abounds in German (cf. _tags, nachts,
        andererseits, andernfalls etc.)

        I assure you that there is no confusion at all here, just correct
        German. The usage you refer to, although unknown to me, must be
        dialectal. It's a common phenomenon for speakers of dialects to confuse
        "standard" usage with dialectal usage. Note that for Austrians
        "standard" German is a "foreign" language learned in school and through
        the media). I encourage you to check any German grammar and
        double-check with your native speaking circles.

        David Kiltz
      • David Kiltz
        In two earlier posts ( Similarities between Elvish and real-world languages
        Message 3 of 13 , Dec 3, 2013
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          In two earlier posts ("Similarities between Elvish and real-world languages"<http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/lambengolmor/conversations/messages/388>  and "Some remarks on _loikolíkuma_"<http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/lambengolmor/conversations/messages/772>),
          I talked about Elvish words having a striking resemblance to "real-world" languages. There may be various reasons for this. However, in some cases, notably (although not exclusively) where often archaic or otherwise marked Germanic words are concerned, one may think of deliberate etymological punning or, at least, allusions on the part of J.R.R. Tolkien.

          One such instance, I would suggest, is the root PHIR- (cf. Etym.) and its derivatives. We find, amongst others, Q _fir-_ 'to expire, die' with nominal derivatives _fire_ (Etym.) 'mortal man', *PHIRI (XI:387), _F/firya_ 'mortal, human (ibid.), _fírima_ 'apt to die, mortal_ (ibid.). This is used as an Elvish expression for humans as 'mortals', i.e. those that die just by 'expiring'.

          These words bear a remarkable resemblance to ONo. _fírar_, OE _fíras_ (both only in the plural) 'humans, men'. For the OE cf. e.g. _f^yra (= fîra) gehwylcne lêoda mînra_ 'all members ('men') of my tribe' (accusative). OHG _firiha_ with the same meaning 'people, humans, men' is related. The word is most probably to be connected with Goth. _fairhvus_ 'world' (translating Greek _kósmos_), ONo. _fjor_, OE _feorh_, OHG _ferah_, the latter three all meaning 'life, being alive' and hence also 'inner life, soul, life-force'. Intriguingly, these words are apparently connected with IE _*perqu-_ (_*perkᵂu-_) 'oak' or other big tree. This is not the place to go into the specifics of the Germanic derivation. It may be of interest, however, to find an Elvish word closely resembling both in form and meaning words in Germanic languages, which clearly belong to an archaic, poetic register. Interestingly, whereas the Germanic semantics seem to be 'having life, life-force', the Elvish word is explained as 'exhale, expire, breathe out', only later applied to human death, cf. XI:387 with note 20.

          What exactly Tolkien thought of the connection remains unclear; it is, however, part of the intellectual richness of his work.

          -David Kiltz

          [Patrick Wynne and I also noted the similarity of PHIR- to OE _firas_ and various I.E. cognates (and potential cognates) in an installment of "Words and Devices" in _Vinyar Tengwar_ 20 (pp. 15ff., q.v.) — CFH]
        • davidkiks
          I also noticed such similarities in this (French) study: http://lambenore.free.fr/telechargements/langrelext.pdf showing relations with Gothic, Finnish, Latin,
          Message 4 of 13 , Dec 3, 2013
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            I also noticed such similarities in this (French) study:


            http://lambenore.free.fr/telechargements/langrelext.pdf


            showing relations with Gothic, Finnish, Latin, Greek, Proto-Indo-European in both structure and meaning, despite Edward's assertion.


            In my list of Q(u)enya words in Parma Eldalamberon #21 (http://lambenore.free.fr/downloads/NQL_PE21.pdf), compared _*caima_ 'bed' (PE21:17) with Lat. _cama_ 'small low bed'; _hos_ (_host-_) 'assembly, crowd' (PE21:20:27) with Old Fr. _host_ 'army' or, more strikingly _sat_ (_sap-_) 'pit' (PE21:20:27) with Fr. _sape_ ‘1° trench dug under a wall or a building in order to spill it. 2° Mil. (siege warfare) buried transmission’.


            J.R.R. Tolkien being signals officer during the First World War, the last example is an interesting example of possible loan of structure and (maybe) meaning.



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